Joint research recently conducted by Accenture and WEConnect International, and supported by The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) Singapore, emphasizes the benefits of growing the number of women-owned businesses to strengthen and accelerate the economic growth and productivity of Singapore.
We found that women-owned businesses are underrepresented in Singapore, making up just 27% of all businesses, and 13% of sales. Other countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada and Switzerland, have similar representation, while the number of women-owned businesses in New Zealand and the United States is higher.
Getting to equal would be breaking new ground among nations, something that Singapore has accomplished in many other economic arenas. It would be of great value to the economy and it would present the way forward for other countries with similar ambitions.
To encourage the growth in number of women-owned businesses, and for Singapore to capture this substantial economic gain, actions are needed to remove barriers for women and provide them with the support they want to be able to succeed. There are four areas where this can be addressed:
- Business-to-business market access: Among women-owned business survey respondents, 65% pointed to market access as the top business challenge.
- Financial access: It takes longer for women-owned businesses to raise capital and they typically secure smaller investment amounts.
- Enterprise capabilities: These capabilities are lacking as a result of the difficulties in hiring talent and filling professional skills gaps among the business owners themselves.
- Women-specific barriers: The formation and growth of women-owned businesses are severely impacted by challenges such as balancing work and family, navigating negative perceptions, gender bias and a perceived lack of credibility.
A powerful ecosystem for growth can be created to overcome these barriers for women-owned businesses. Large businesses, financial institutions, governments and non-governmental organizations can all play a critical role to help include women-owned businesses in the business community and to provide them with the support needed to succeed.